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What is Bok Choy? Benefits, Uses, Nutrition and Possible Side Effects

Bok choy is one of the oldest vegetables Chinese cuisine. And today it is expanding all over the world to enjoy its flavor and all its properties.

However, it is still unknown to many consumers. So, if you want to know what it is, how to prepare it and how its consumption can benefit you, we encourage you to continue reading the article.

A green leafy plant of the cabbage family

Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa chinensis) or pak choi, bok choy is a plant belonging to the cruciferous group. It is grown in China, Korea, and other Asian countries. But with its gastronomic expansion, in recent years its production has spread to Europe and America.

Although it shares a family with cabbage, broccoli or turnip, it actually looks more like chard. Unlike the rest of Chinese cabbages, it has smooth, open leaves and an intense green color.

In the kitchen it stands out for its smooth and pleasant flavor. They can be tasted both raw and cooked. It pairs well with multiple ingredients and dressings.

You can enjoy them in a wide variety of dishes, such as woks, soups or stir-fries, both oriental and more western inspired. A perfect way to introduce a greater variety of vegetables in the diet.

Nutritional Composition of Bok choy

Both cruciferous and leafy greens are very nutritious foods, like bok choy. Although they have a large proportion of water and are light, they are loaded with a large number of vitamins and minerals.

These are the macronutrients present in 100 grams of raw fresh product:

  • Energy: 13 kilocalories.
  • Water: 95.3 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 2.18 grams.
  • Proteins: 1.5 grams.
  • Lipids: 0.2 grams.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.

Besides, they provide good amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium. As for vitamins, the presence of vitamin C, K, A and folates stands out.

Health Benefits of Bok choy

Adding Chinese cabbage to your daily diet is a good idea. Thanks to the vitamins, fiber and other nutrients it contains, it is also a good bet to take care of your health.

1. Cardiovascular health

The prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular system is one of the main benefits derived from the regular consumption of vegetables and fruits. The dietary guidelines point out the importance of an abundant intake of these products. As noted in the 2013 Australian Guidelines, this reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

2. Antioxidant

In Chinese cabbage there are numerous antioxidant components, among which vitamin C stands out. These molecules have the ability to protect the body against the action of free radicals.

In recent years, numerous studies indicate that its lack of control can lead to a situation of oxidative stress. And this has been related to the appearance of some chronic diseases and premature aging.

3. Anti-inflammatory effect

Inflammation is a normal response of the immune system to damage in the body. However, its chronification can lead to the appearance of a wide range of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, and arthritis, among others.

The main way to slow down this process is through the use of medications. But there are also some phytochemicals present in plants and foods with this capacity, among which phenolic compounds, abundant in crucifers, stand out.

4. The choi pack in cancer prevention

The relationship between diet and this disease has aroused the interest of scientists. In the last decades, the results have led to the conclusion that the consumption of phytochemicals can reduce the incidence of cancer.

Specifically, broccoli and other crucifers have been associated with a lower incidence of lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer. The protective effects are due to glucosinolates, which are also present in bok choy.

5. Bone development

Some minerals found in Chinese cabbage are necessary for proper bone growth. These are calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Possible risks of consuming Bok choy

The intake of bok choy is safe and suitable for all people in all circumstances. But although it has health benefits, a high intake can cause unwanted effects.

In its raw form it is not recommended for people with thyroid problems. In pak choi and other cruciferous vegetables you are present an enzyme called myrosinase. This has the function of degrading glucosinolates.

Once in the body, glucosinolates produce other molecules that can make it difficult to absorb important nutrients, such as iodine. And this has a fundamental role in normal thyroid function. The negative effects have occurred on a few occasions and always after a very high intake for a long period of time.

In addition, due to the presence of vitamin K, it is not advisable to abuse them when taking anticoagulant medications. The best recommendation is to always consult your doctor to resolve any doubts in this regard.

How to integrate it into the daily diet

When faced with a new product, there are always some doubts about how it is better to cook it and what dishes can be prepared with it. But do not worry, since preparing recipes with bok choy does not have any difficulty.

Before starting, all the leaves and stalks must be thoroughly washed. Both parts are edible, although it is in the leaves where a large part of its nutrients is concentrated. The thicker end stem is a bit tough and can be discarded.

In traditional Chinese cuisine, the most common recipes are soups, woks and steamed dishes. They are often accompanied by soy sauce, tofu, sesame seeds, and other seasonings and spices.

But to introduce it into the usual diet there are endless possibilities: vegetable creams, stir-fries, salads, vegetable stews or omelettes. In addition, boiled or steamed they are an ideal accompaniment to meat, fish or tofu.

If you lack inspiration or ideas for serving it, the easiest thing to start is to substitute it for chard or spinach. However, it is interesting to know that to get the most out of its flavor and texture, it is best to cook it for short periods.

Diversify your vegetable consumption with Bok choy

Like bimi or kale cabbage, pak choi is another Asian food that has become common in the kitchens of many countries. Its presence in the diet is not a fad, since it is a very nutritious product.

However, sometimes it is better to be careful with your intake. For this reason, the best recommendation is to have a varied diet that provides a large number of different foods and nutrients.

In addition, bok choy can be offered multiple times and is suitable for everyone. It is even valid in the case of following diets low in FODMAPs and reduced in carbohydrates.

So, if you are curious, you have it very easy. Today it is found in many establishments. Let your imagination fly and try them out!

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